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Reproductive Biology

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How I'd do it, but my wife won't let me.

An open letter to the breeders and distributors.

Download this entire website as a [PDF] document.

Q: Can you tell me if my mystery snail is ivory?
A: Probably.  Send me a photo.

Q: Can you tell me if my mystery snail is a female?
A: No.  It’s just too hard to do that from photos.  See Point #5 in the section on Reproductive Biology.

Q: My (Phase 1) parental-generation ivory snail is not laying eggs.  What should I do?
A: My first thought is that it might be a male.  I’d pull it out of the water and inspect it very closely for a penis.  If I didn’t see a penis, I’d re-examine my culture technique.  Am I taking good care of her?  Have I fed her regularly and kept her water fresh?  Is she healthy, does she seem to be growing?  And if my culture technique is fine, my third thought would be that she might not be inseminated.  So I would pair her with another adult snail (ideally, of course, one I had reason to think is a male) for a couple days, and then isolate her again.  And I would prefer that her potential suitor not be ivory, but any other color form.  Brown would be nice.

Q: Do you have culture tips for mystery snails?  Do you have recommendations about food, water quality, temperature, lighting, filtration, and so forth?  Do you have any ideas on how to promote egg laying?  Can you recommend methods to harvest egg masses and hatch babies?
A:  Well, not directly.  Most of you have more experience with home aquariums than I do.  If I were going to do this study myself, I’d use lab culture techniques that aren’t practical for the home. 

That stipulated, if you go to my page entitled, “How I'd do it, but my wife won't let me," you'll find lots of recommendations imbedded, including indirect answers to many of the questions posed above.  See if you can adapt some of those recommendations to your home situation.

Q: Why did you start the MSCG Project?
A: I’m a recently-retired college professor who is bored.  And I’m intellectually fascinated by the ecology, evolution, and genetics of mollusks.

Q: What do you hope to get out of it?
A: Our results will certainly be published.  We’re aiming for a paper in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.  But the quality of the publication depends on the quality of the data we ultimately generate.

Q: When it is published, can I be a coauthor?
A:  I will certainly acknowledge all contributors by name, with their permission.  But it’s too early to talk about coauthorship at this point.

Q: How long will the project take?
A: That’s difficult to estimate.  Maybe a couple years?  I used to walk into the lab and ask my students, “How’s the snail research going?”  And they would answer, “Slow.”

Q:  Years, are you kidding?  Can I get results sooner?
A: Yes, absolutely.  We’re all working together.  I will collect all your email addresses and send periodic updates on our progress, including all interim results may have been sent to me.  I’ll also post periodic updates on the MSCG Project News and Announcements page.

Q: Can I remain anonymous?
A:  No and Yes.  I must have (at minimum) your full name and email address, and I would also be interested to hear anything else about yourself that you’d like to share, including your actual physical address, background, interests, and so forth.  We’re colleagues.  That’s called “collegiality.”  But if you don’t want me to share your info with anybody else, I’ll respect your privacy.

Q: Why email?
A: I do not understand social media, probably because I am not social.  I would actually feel most comfortable conducting this entire study by old-fashioned snail-mail, with stamps.  Email is as far as I can go.  

And I hate gadgets of all sorts.  I still have a flip phone, which I use to talk to people, and a digital camera, which I use to take photos, and a computer, which I use to connect with the internet.  If I want to listen to music, I have a CD player, and if I want to watch movies, I go to the theater.  And I have no desire to google-up random factoids to contradict my spouse, whatsoever.  I cannot for the life of me understand why anybody would want to do all of those things, worse, with an expensive, fragile, awkward little box that pinches in the pocket.

Q: Why must I correspond in complete English sentences, with correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation?
A:  My friends tell me that I can be a nice guy, sometimes.  But when it comes to science, I am an arrogant jerk.  I am demanding, and I am critical, and one of the (many) things I will not tolerate is sloppiness.

So, the way you express yourself tells me a lot about you.  If you are so careless and inattentive to detail that you cannot communicate in complete, correct English sentences, I will not trust any scientific data you might be able to gather.  And there’s no point in your participating in this project.

Q: Why is the MSCG Project website so ugly?
A:  Ouch, that’s harsh, man.  First, this is a research project.  And form must follow function.  But second, any volunteers out there with web skills are invited to contact me!

Last updated 7 Nov 2018